Anxiety and Depression in Adopted Children – Part 1

In anticipation of our April webcast on Anxiety and Depression in Adopted Children, ALP Clinical Director Judy Stigger shared some helpful definitions and advice for parents, especially parents of adopted teens:


Depression may be expressed in 'tweens and teens as ongoing sadness or lethargy or, surprisingly, as intense anger or rage. For example, my granddaughter came home from school one day saying, “I lost another friend because I blew up over nothing. I don’t know what is wrong with me!”

Anxiety may show itself as constant fretting about grades or friends or ongoing uncertainty about almost anything. Some kids soldier through it. But just as often we see kids disengaging from school work, cutting or experimenting with weed or alcohol as they strive to feel better.

Because we are talking about teenagers and because ADHD or frustration at school caused by a learning disability or other mental health challenge can share symptoms with depression and anxiety, figuring out what your child is struggling with and how to help is confusing to many families.

What it is not:

Depression and anxiety are not character flaws. “Get over it” is not helpful advice. Eating well and getting sufficient exercise, sunshine and sleep can sometimes help to diminish symptoms. But getting your child to understand and comply without straining your relationship may be easier said than done...especially with teens.


Materials on may also be worth looking at, as is this fact sheet put out by the Children's Bureau.

Join us for Anxiety and Depression in Adopted Children on April 7, 2016 at 8 PM Central. Our experts for the evening will be Peggy Kubert, LCSW, from Erika’s Lighthouse, and Vasco Lopes, PsyD, a psychologist at the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders. Register here.

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Posted by SunnyDays on April 20, 2023 at 8:01 PM
I just finished reading your article on "Anxiety and Depression in Adopted Children: Part 1" on Adoption Learning Partners, and I must say, it's an incredibly insightful and important piece. The way you've addressed the unique challenges that adopted children may face when dealing with anxiety and depression is both informative and empathetic.
I appreciate how you've emphasized the need for understanding and support from adoptive parents, as well as the importance of recognizing the signs of anxiety and depression in adopted children. Your focus on building strong connections and creating a safe environment for these children is crucial in helping them navigate their mental health journeys.
Your article made me think of the wonderful work being done by Sunny Days Counseling and Life Coaching, where they support individuals and families in addressing mental health challenges, including those unique to adoption.
Posted by Adoption Learning Partners on April 18, 2016 at 10:05 AM
Hi Jean,
Yes, the Anxiety and Depression webcast is now available on-demand. You can purchase it here and watch it whenever you’re ready:
We also offer a series of courses called Tough Starts with topics on brain development, treatment, parenting, and family. Whether you take one or all of them, they may be able to provide some insight into your child’s tough start in life that may have led to his behavior struggles and how you can help your child heal. Here is more information about those courses:
Please let us know if you have any questions.
Posted by Jean Schwartz on April 16, 2016 at 5:22 PM
Hello -
I missed "Anxiety and Depression in Adopted Children" on April 7 and would very much like to listen to it. Is this possible?
My 10 yr. old adopted son has severe rage and anger issues that he has been exhibiting for over 8 years. We had him in therapy but this has not helped him manage his very out of control and disrespectful behavior to his father and me, and his sister. Any other resources that you could recommend? We are in Arvada, Colorado.
Thank you.
Discussion, advice and a few of our favorite experts. All for families formed through adoption.